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Lobbyists use their gift of gab to influence government officials and legislators into enacting laws or policies that favor their clients' interests. Lobbyists use a range of tools to achieve their cause, including running social media campaigns, holding press conferences and organizing demonstrations. Aspiring lobbyists need a bachelor's degree, strong communication, persuasion and networking skills to get started in this occupation.
Earn the Right Degree
Although lobbyists can get started with a bachelor’s degree in any field, those with a degree in political science, economics, communications, law, public relations or journalism have strong employment prospects. Some employers also prefer lobbyists with a degree in a specific field. For example, a wildlife conservancy that is looking to sway the Environmental Protection Agency into reviewing a policy may hire an individual with a background in environmental science or wildlife biology.
Master the Skills
Competent lobbyists are effective communicators with strong persuasion skills. They must remain focused on the issue they are advocating and write articles in newspapers or give public speeches in a way that can easily attract an audience. Lobbyists also need good networking and interpersonal skills to develop professional relationships with persons of interest -- such as lawmakers -- and planning skills to organize successful outreach campaigns. Patience is important, too. Sometimes it can take several weeks for a lobbyist's efforts to bear fruit.
Lobbyists must either hold a license or be registered to practice in their state. Although many states only require lobbyists to submit their personal and occupational details to their state’s governing boards, others -- such as California -- require applicants to pay a fee and complete an ethics orientation course. The Association of Government Relations Professionals, formerly known as the American League of Lobbyists, offers a Lobbying Certificate Program, which lobbyists can obtain to earn the LCP designation and improve their chances of getting hired.
Although many professionals -- such as lawyers -- practice lobbying alongside other careers, others are full-time lobbyists. Examples of potential employers include lobbying firms, private individuals, educational institutions, law firms, political and social organizations, professional bodies, state and local governments and financial institutions. After gaining vast experience and developing a wide network of contacts, lobbyists can start their own lobbying firms. According to the job site Indeed, lobbyists earned an average salary of $71,000 in 2014.
- Princeton Review: Career: Lobbyist
- University of Wisconsin - Madison: Environmental Lobbyist
- Meyers and Associates: Lobbyist and lobbying.
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Lobbyist Registration Requirements
- Association of Government Relations Professionals: About the Lobbying Certificate Program
- Indeed: Lobbyist Salary
Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.
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